Enemy Review

Posted: March 31, 2014 in Drama, Reviews, Science Fiction
Tags: , , , ,

2e7fb8ef-ce51-43bd-ad5a-51217108b046_ENEMY_DAY17-0034-FINALIf you like blueberries, would your doppelganger like them as well?

If your wife is blonde, would your doppelganger’s girlfriend also be blonde?

If you had a doppelganger, which of you would be the evil one?

Who am you? Who are I?

These are the questions asked, but not answered in director Denis Villeneuve’s and screenwriter Javier Gullón’s new feature, Enemy. In order of appearance, Jake Gyllenhaal stars as history teacher Adam Hall and actor Anthony St. Claire, two men of no seeming significance outside of their circles of friends and acquaintances and no apparent relation beyond an uncanny resemblance.

While watching a DVD recommended by a colleague, Hall notices that the actor billed as Third Bellhop could be his twin. He virtually stalks his lookalike via Google, watches the other movies St. Claire has made, and then takes it to the next level by showing up at his agency and phoning his apartment. The two circle each other wearily as if intuiting that no good can come out of this coincidence, if that’s what it is.

The resemblance is more than skin deep. The two have the same voice, the same beard, the same scar, and maybe the same mother – although she swears she has only one son. Is one crazy or is it the other or both? Could it be one person masquerading as two, and if so, what would that mean if they switched partners?

Villeneuve, cinematographer Nicolas Bolduc, production designer Patrice Vermette, and art director Sean Breaugh collaborate to create a world of haze and shadows. Toronto, the setting for the film, is smothered in a pale yellow fog like the light of a 40 watt bulb through a dusty lampshade. Interiors are partially lit. Who or what is in the darkness, if anything, is left to your imagination. Are you afraid of spiders?

Gyllenhaal is fine, but the women in his lives are even better. Mélanie Laurent plays the professor’s girlfriend; Sarah Gadon is the actor’s wife. While not twins, the two could be sisters. Their motivations and reactions to the situation are key; they are our stand-ins, and their reactions are ours.

Elation when we believe we have it figured out, frustration, when it appears to not be the case, exasperation when no possibility is ruled out. Yet, the lasting impression of the film is crystallized in a single moment by one’s reaction to the final image. There may not be a correct interpretation of the ending; perhaps the last scene, if not the entire film, is a Rorschach test.

The story’s roots are not in cinema, but in existential philosophy and in the literature of Ionesco, Kafka, and Burroughs (William, not Edgar Rice). See it with someone else or start talking to the person walking out of the theater next to you to discuss the most conversation-worthy ending since Inception. It won’t be enough to say whether you liked it or not.


Three stars.

  1. Mirella McCracken says:

    Am blond and like bluberries…..

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